Art, religion intersect at chapel project

A dedication service for the new chapel at Emmanuel Episcopal Church will be a celebration of church history and contemporary art, featuring the work of local and national artisans.

The dedication service will be at 4 p.m., Sunday, June 12, at Emmanuel Episcopal, 412 N. Church St.

Rockford native Kurt Nielsen, an internationally known furniture maker and sculptor, will unveil a carving of Mary inspired by the Magnificat, also known as The Song of Mary. The Magnificat is based on the Gospel of St. Luke and sung during evening prayer in Episcopal, Roman Catholic and Lutheran services. Nielsen’s “Song of Mary” sculpture captures the movement of the music, offering a contemporary theologic view of The Madonna.

While the sculpture is contemporary, the chapel’s design was influenced by the Gothic movement of the 12th century. Emmanuel parishioner Phil Wing’s study of Abbot Suger, the Abbot of St. Denis, inspired the project.

“He believed that aesthetics were important to assist the believer in worship, transporting one’s thoughts from the material to the immaterial, from the earthly to the heavenly,” said Wing.

Wing, an avid worker, built the chapel’s walnut altar and doors. He enlisted an army of volunteers from the parish to work on the project. Wing also brought in Rockford furniture-maker Ejner Pagh to help hang the sepele paneling and trim work, and Frank Houtkamp, a Rockford stained glass artist, created windows for the chapel.

The public is invited to the dedication. A reception will follow.

From the June 8-14, 2005, issue

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